Starting the Vision 2030 Engine

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By Prof Monish Gunawardna Five years have passed since our Government declared the V-2030 national human development agenda that is designed to uplift Namibia as a highly developed nation such as Japan or the United States. To me, this is an attainable goal. But, as President Hifikepunye Pohamba recently rightly cautioned, still we have only 25 years left. Now people want to see how this vision is going to reduce their poverty and bring a better life for their children. Tangible Results If we could start the Vision 2030 engine in 2006, then after five years (by 2010), an ordinary Namibian should be able to fulfil his basic family needs and his employable children would bee employed. People’s buying power is increased. This means that our vision has begun to deliver tangible results. Now the mission becomes a messiah for the grass-root level people. This is one way to measure the success of the vision. The next yardstick is the steady growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In 2006, the GDP is around N$12.5 and the growth is 3.8%. Let us imagine that by 2010, the GDP has risen to N$16 billion and the growth has increased to 7 percent. This growth will generate more jobs, improve insfrasture and increase investments, then people passionately will love and defend the vision. They don’t think of the vision as a rhetoric slogan. By increasing the GDP growth to 9.5%, continuously over 20 years, China could rescue 40% of the population from dire poverty and be reborn as a global economic powerhouse. It is valid for Namibia, too. Guiding Principles I believe that the V-2030 Project can be guided by the following five principles. (1) Government-Led Growth – Namibia’s growth is to be initiated by the State, mobilizing the resources of the Government and private sector. By utilizing the annual budgets, monetary and fiscal policies, during the NDP3-period (2006-10) (NDP-3), Namibia can easily leap ahead to industrialization (2) Identifying Core Economic Sectors – China is the ‘Global Factory.’ Its manufacturing industries are based on the massive capital, technological expertise, raw materials and energy. India is the ‘Global Service Hub” that focuses on software products, telecom, and business process outsourcing. They are 52% of the GDP. Japan’s focus is knowledge-intensive industries: microelectronics, automobiles and robotics. The USA thrives on advanced technologic industries, IT, pharmaceuticals, energy, and an efficient service sector. Among the world’s 10 biggest companies, four of them are owned by the USA (Walmart, Exxcon Mobil, Ford Motors, General Electric). They annually inject around US$1,000 billion to the American economy. In 2006, we should promote viable Competitive Economic Sectors (CES) for the V2030-Plan of Action. (3) Skill Development – The NDP-3 (2006-2010) will demand a more knowledgeable workforce. Our education system doesn’t produce them. Now, let us design short-term trade courses through the vocational training centers. Moreover, select 100 B. Degree holders (including Art/ Social Science graduates) and provide 12 months’ management training. They will be our future knowledge workers. In the 1980’s India recruited thousands of Art Degree holders for the three-year science degrees such as Bachelor of Information Technology and Bio Technology. (4) Attracting Foreign Direct Investment – When government starts the engine of growth, youth will become knowledgeable though fast track courses and apprenticeships. Identified economic sectors will produce highly marketable quality products and services. This success story will fly across all continents. In the mean time, government should remove the investment barriers such as profit exporting, registrations and lethargic immigration rules. Also, it is vital to establish a ‘Single-Window for Speedy Clearance’ for our investors. Then, more local and foreign investors, even multilateral donors, will open their moneybags. Economic success encourages investors’ confidence! (5) Managing HIV/Aids – Nearly 20% of our population is HIV positive. The impact of AIDS on the V-2030 is still not property studied. We have tabled the National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan 2004-2009 to minimize the spread of HIV and mitigate the impact of AIDS. The time scale of the plan is 60 months and only 37 months are left. If NACOP can provide bi-annual progress reports of the MTP-111 to the NPC, they can restructure activities of the V-2030 Plan of Action to manage the impact of AIDS. Service Industries for Namibia Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) or Back Office Service is a growing economic sector in the world that provides services to clients across the world. These services are Writing Software Applications, Utility Bill Processing. Airline Booking, Medical-Record Handling, Data Processing, Data Warehousing, Call Centers and Research. Indian big BPOs like Wipro, Office Tiger, Infosis, provide back office service to the world’s big companies such as HSBC, American Express, British Airways, IBM. This sector employs thousands of graduates and covers 51% of the GDP. Furthermore, the Identification Products (bio-metric), Security Printing, Financial Services, Retail Industry, Private Medical Care and Leisure-Services are related to the service sector. Africa’s Back Office Let us leapfrog. Namibia should plan to become the Service-Hub of Africa. We can use our excellent infrastructure, state-of-the-art telecommunications network, efficient financial sector, easily trainable Namibian youth and political stability to establish a high-tech service sector. This sector will bring unimaginable wealth to our economy. Except South Africa and Egypt, we are ahead of other African countries. We have an easily manageable population and an abundance of unused natural resources. Namibia upholds and defends parliamentary democracy. Therefore, if we use our business acumen and best ethical management practices, this nation has enormous potential to become a success story for the third world. And, as President Pohamba said, “We have to do something now.” Hence, without wasting our time in never-ending discussions and debates, let us do something that our people can see.